With Uganda Premier League clubs struggling to fill the revenue void created by snuffed match day incomes and sponsorships, FUFA should be stepping into that vacuum. They could use the next three months before the resumption of the Premier league to provide the kind of leadership that ensures a healthy competition. But is it ready to shake off its traditional straight jacket attitude?
Immediate Covid-19 related economic challenges were always bound to dominate debate and Mengo has been thoughtful enough to extend the payment of prize money for the 19/20 season. But the clubs’ survival isn’t going to be delivered by prize money that is structured in such a way it will boost the healthier top clubs more than it would, the ailing bottom ones.
I will leave out the relegated clubs and those propped by institutions and say Kyetume need the Shs60 million more than Vipers, but they are getting Shs2.4 million instead – hardly enough to meet a month’s expenses.
Fufa must accept that clubs are staring at a retreat of revenue opportunities and grab the mantel of leadership. It has never been so needed. They are in the right place at the right time to give a powerful financial boost to the clubs’ chances of survival or otherwise risk having no new season at all.
And I appreciate that Fufa’s responsibilities spread beyond just the premier league. There are second tier, Underage, Women, Beach, and International competitions to manage. I get that.
Yet these aren’t normal circumstances. We can’t do away with all football and yet we can’t afford to resume all of it. So, Fufa will have to be selective in dealing with this crisis.
Prioritising the premier league is a basis on which it can sit out the current storm, because a neglected premier league would be a recipe for failure.
To avoid impending doom Fufa must re-imagine the way it runs. Its obligations are clear, but Covid-19 crisis represents the kind of conditions that call for a new way of looking at things.
It did well to hand out relief food to all its 2000 registered professionals at the start of the Covid-19, but we all knew a family has limited mileage on 6kg of rice.
It has gone a step further in handing out Shs128m prize money. That could have creatively been split it evenly with each club getting 8m. But instead the descending order in which the healthier top eight get an average of Shs14.2m while the struggling bottom eight receive an average of 1.8m, speaks of an attitude that doesn’t recognize the liberal spread of the current financial crisis.
And with no space for going into detail, the crisis has rendered some FUFA’s cost lines irrelevant. Why not re-allocate any such budgets towards providing a stimulus package for premier league clubs?
In the end Fufa needs to showcase a unique leadership for a changing world. Above the clamour of straight jacket fund dispensing, Fufa can steer football to stop looking in the rear-view mirror and to embrace a less predictable future.